Unlike other games in recent history, the St. Louis Blues did not leave anything to chance against the Arizona Coyotes. Instead of leaving the result up to chance or a late push, the Blues came out early and stayed late.
The Blues came to play right from the get go in their home game against Arizona. They had 10 shots on goal in the first period alone.
That has been a point of contention lately. The Blues did not often get anything rolling in the first period, but they finally got pucks to the net here.
The fact it was scoreless after the first 20 minutes will be a sticking point for some. Nevertheless, the Blues were playing a style of hockey much more like what we would expect from them.
It did not take long for them to crack that goose egg in the second period either. Ivan Barbashev broke the scoring, putting home a rebound on a delayed penalty call to make it 1-0 just over two minutes in.
Less than 90 seconds later, Vladimir Tarasenko doubled the lead. He one-timed it into an empty net after the Coyotes’ goaltender got crossed up on the behind the net play.
It took less than three minutes for the Blues to get another goal. This time it was Brayden Schenn to sneak one under the goaltender on the power play and make it 3-0.
St. Louis didn’t let that lead fool them either. They kept their foot on the gas.
A suddenly resurgent special teams power on both sides, the Blues came up with another shorthanded goal. This one was finished off by Pavel Buchnevich via a two-on-one and it was 4-0 to end the second period.
The Coyotes grabbed a little bit of life early in the third period. Former Blackhawk, Nick Schmaltz pounced on a rebound and stuffed it in to make it 4-1.
There really wasn’t anything anyone could have done on that play. If you want to be picky, perhaps Nick Leddy could have gone in harder on the board battle near the corner, but once the puck got worked around, it was just a solid play by Arizona.
The Blues didn’t sit back and let Arizona just come at them in waves. They also didn’t wait until the end of the game to hope for an empty net scenario.
Tarasenko added to his personal total a little over 13 minutes into the third period. He drove into the slot and hammered home another one-timer to retake a four-goal lead and make it 5-1.
That ended up being the final on this night. It gave the Blues their second win in a row and points in five straight.
The goals speak for themselves in this game. Tarasenko has officially hit one of his patented hot streaks.
He has two two-goal games in his last five. He scored two in the home game against Vancouver and another two on this night. That gives him two two-goal games in his last two home games as well.
What’s even better is the fact he’s connecting on one-timers. He’s been so against the idea of even attempting them in the past that it’s great he’s even attempting. It’s fantastic he’s scoring on them.
Maybe you chalk the first one up to luck. The goaltender lost the puck behind the net, so maybe he makes the save if he knew the pass was coming.
Regardless of your feelings on that, he settled in behind the defense. He didn’t just hang out by the wall or glide around in some unhelpful area. Tarasenko settled into the soft area of the ice where the defense was unaware and snapped it quickly.
The second one was just a goal scorer’s goal. He drove through the defense, knowing a pass would come and banged it just as quick as the first and there was nothing anyone was going to do about that one.
I don’t know what it is about this team. They’re immensely talented up and down the roster.
They don’t have the mega stars at the top. They have four lines of guys that are dependable and get the job done.
For whatever reason, they are just foolishly careless with the puck this season. They make passes that have no business being made by the superstars of the league, much less the Blues.
The stat sheet says St. Louis had nine giveaways in the game. I still have yet to figure out what counts as a statistical giveaway, but if you have nine of those, you probably had double that in terms of what the average person would consider a turnover.
It did not cost them against Arizona, but the Coyotes are a bad team and might be mentally broken with the loss of Clayton Keller. A much better team would have capitalized on St. Louis’ miscues, but fortunately it did not happen on this night.
Win or lose, the one thing that has been missing lately is that Blues style of physicality. They don’t have the size to blow people up like you used to see in the 90’s NHL, but they’ve normally been a team that would mix it up and battle.
The Blues came out with a mind to hit people in this game. They wanted to take out their frustrations on Arizona.
St. Louis got credited with a whopping 22 hits in this game. That’s impressive in and of itself.
However, it’s even more impressive when you figure they had the puck more often than not. Often times, the team that is trailing ends up with more hits because they’re throwing the body in an attempt to regain the puck.
St. Louis had a good deal of possession and then went after the Coyotes directly if they did not have it. It was a rare showing of the Blues actually intimidating their opponent like we saw just a few years ago.
We’ve reached the point in the season where it’s pointless to upgrade or downgrade wins based on the opponent. There will be plenty of fans that shrug and say “Well, it was just Arizona.”
I don’t care. You need wins, you need points and you need to look good while getting those things, if possible.
St. Louis did all that. They won just about all the battles.
The only statistical category they did not lead in was shot blocks. They weren’t defending enough to get those numbers and they’re not a big shot blocking team anyway.
They outshot Arizona overall and scored in short succession in the second period. They outhit the Coyotes, which we’ve already discussed.
St. Louis won the faceoff battle. They also won the special teams battle, going 1-2 on their own power play, keeping Arizona off the board on two power plays and also getting a shorthanded goal.
Yes, the Coyotes are a bad team. The Blues have struggled with bad teams.
This was the kind of performance the Blues should have been having all year against the bottom feeders. Come out strong and crush their souls before they get any hope.
St. Louis can sweep the season series against the Seattle Kraken coming up on April 6. They definitely will if they come out with the same focus they had in this game.